Thursday, July 28, 2011
Camping...There's a point right?
I love camping...but why? One thing I love about camping is that it makes normal life feel way easier. I gain a new appreciation for simple things like a dishwasher, oven, bed. Camping really isn't easier, especially when you have three small children. It's a lot of work. Just trying to fit everything we would need for four nights into our little Saturn was an engineering feat. I decided for this last trip that I wasn't going to fall into my old pattern of hyping up the trip and having a lot of expectations and then being irritated and disappointed when things don't go my way. I decided to set the bar very low. I told myself that we would have almost no fun, relaxation, or peace. I said that this was simply a ridiculous experiment to see if we could even make it for the full four days.
I think this mental preparation was helpful for the success of the trip. I still had my breaking point moments, like when Levi just wouldn't stop crying or when the boys were being particularly crabby. But all in all it was a great trip. The weather was perfect (you might foggily remember that brief window). The scenery was beautiful. We were right on the lake and had this whole little peninsula to ourselves. Braden and Zac both swam in the lake for the first time (with life jackets). Heather thought it was too cold. It was. We pretended to be Proboscis Monkeys (those are the ones that swim and have funny noses). I loved watching my sons swimming an exploring and having an adventure. Another thing that occupied much of there time was picking huckleberries and salmon berries.
So what is it really that I love about camping? I think I love the pace, the rhythm, the rituals. You can do nothing while you're camping and you're doing something. You're camping. You can sit around the campfire in the morning sipping coffee, read a book down by the lake, put out a fishing pole, lay out in the sun, swim, tell stories, walk, make dinner, cook things on sticks, not shower, stare at something beautiful. All of these normal activities are somehow infused with meaning. They are somehow special, sometimes even sacred.
I was wondering out loud with Heather after the trip. Do people from other countries, countries with a lot of poverty go camping? Would they understand it at all. Or would it just make no sense whatsoever like so many other thing... like appetizers or 3.5 baths... Like would these folks wonder what the point is....of how we sort of like roughing it and being inconvenienced and how we like to give up all our luxuries.
I was reading about a wealthy family from California that gave up there life of luxury to move to Montana and life the rustic lifestyle. I guess they make a documentary of it. They built their own cabin, sewed their own clothes, make their own butter, stuff like that. At first the kids were totally against it. But the father felt like he needed to do something drastic or the family was going to be lost forever. After the year was up they asked the daughter which life she preferred. And with tears in her eyes she shared how she wished they could go back to their little ranch. That is the only time she remembered really being a family. Maybe that's what I love about camping.